According to a blistering new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, President Obama’s Department of Justice is requiring colleges to violate the First Amendment. By stretching the boundaries of Title IX well beyond the breaking point, the DOJ has become a significant threat to free speech.
“The Department of Justice now interprets Title IX to require colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment,” said the report.
Title IX went into effect in 1972. It states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Over the years, Title IX has been used to justify any number of strange initiatives, some of which have been more controversial than others. But none of them have been as calculated and disturbing as the DOJ’s recent efforts. In a letter to the University of New Mexico, the department gave the school an extraordinarily broad set of guidelines to follow when investigating sexual harassment.
“The school has responsibility to respond to allegations of sexual harassment of which they are or should have been aware, regardless of whether a student has complained, asked the school to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination,” read the letter.
Under that framework, schools must not only take action against sexual harassment when they find out about it, but also before they find out about it! They must investigate even if no one has complained! They must investigate even if no one else has “identified” it as discrimination!
FIRE contends that this “all but guarantees that colleges and universities nationwide will subject students and faculty to months-long investigations – or worse – for protected speech.”
Of course, this goes beyond Title IX, beyond colleges, and beyond sexual harassment. With every passing day, the left in this country is moving closer to a re-imagining of the First Amendment. Once the self-described guardians of free speech, liberal activists today see things differently. They want to make certain forms of speech illegal. They want to call it “hate speech” and lock up anyone who violates the official codes.
Sadly, we make it all too easy for them. No one wants to defend a bus-load of morons singing racist fraternity songs. No one wants to stand up for some jerk who bullies a co-ed. So the left gets away with it. In its own way, this battle is very similar to the one on gun rights. When a mass shooting occurs, everyone sort of timidly gets out of the way so that the left can have their moment. Who wants to stand up in front of a microphone a day after a tragedy and say, “Well, when it comes to gun control, we should actually do nothing.”? Some do, but most hunker down until the storm blows over.
Problem being that one of these days – on speech, on guns, on everything – we’re going to emerge from our bunker and see a very different world staring back at us.